So Valentine's is one of those funny holidays, created/exaggerated by Hallmark which focuses so much on materialistic love between romantically involved couples. I like to think that although they've raised awareness to needing more love in the world, they've missed the mark entirely on the true meaning of this day.
My thoughts on Valentines day this year began when a "nasty gram" came home from Axel's Montessori school banning Valentines and so-much-as a loving thought from their curriculum. While it's no secret that I LOVE the methodology of Montessori teaching and I'm a huge fan of many of their ideas and outcomes, I've become a little jaded by the last 6 months of Axel's Principal expressing her personal views and sending home rudely worded notes on how we should be parenting/"recognizing" (not "celebrating") certain days of the year. Just the same as people interpreting poetry, the Bible and other texts for their own personal use, this particular principal stands on the firm structure of Montessori and interprets the years of research only how she sees fit. Valentines Day is not the first example she's given, but this day of love was perhaps the proverbial straw that broke this camels heart. My love turned sour long before that note hit the trash.
Axel was sent to school today, not wearing red, without so much as a Valentine to share. It made made me a little sad to think that these kids were pounded at Christmas time by the message of the "giving tree" – buying expensive, new (by requirement) gifts for people they would never see receive them – and yet they can't even cut out 20 paper hearts, write their names on them and have the joy of placing one in each of their friends Valentine Box.
So on the short drive home I got to thinking about how we would celebrate this day, showing the true meaning to Axel and Oliver, leaving out all the excess "Hallmark," and forgetting all the negative people who feel the need to control even the simplest form of love/friendship. When I got home, I realized that perhaps our message has already been given and my job here is done. I began to see the Valentines we've collected over the last few days, each one being a part of the exact meaning of Valentines Day.
Two days ago, Axel and Oliver got a card from an uncle in Colorado. Happy wishes and a card with stuffed animals on it (Axel's favorite). I remembered that last weekend we received a "moustache" bag full of goodies which made us laugh because as everyone knows – Axel calls my dad "Grandpa Moustache." Yesterday we found a Valentine from Miami in our mailbox from the cutest boy Nolan (the baby of my childhood best friend).
Just a few minutes ago I was going to put away my volunteer bag (the bag I take to visit hospice patients) and remembered that my patient, whom I've been seeing for the past 4 weeks, had given me a heart-box filled with chocolates. Finally, as I was sitting down to blog about all of this I remembered that the other night Jahred bought a card for me at the grocery store and left it on top of the piano. Let me back this up with a little information – we are not known for exchanging gifts/cards/flowers...in fact we almost NEVER do...for any holiday. But anyhow, he had picked up this card for me, left it in such an obvious place that I found it, and then as we began to laugh he pulled out the receipt and said, "And I know you so well that I'm gonna let you read this and you can even return it." He knows me too well. I am a purger. I don't like to accumulate. I would have hung onto this card for a set period of time and it would have been recycled. Once you read the words on a card, I like to believe they are internalized and a reminder isn't needed.
The meaning of Valentines day isn't in the hoopla or the grand romantic gestures. It's in the words, the thoughts, the reaching out to people you hardly know and people you've loved or maybe under-appreciated your whole life. It's about kindness, not control. You don't need a partner, a child or a best friend to have a Valentines Day. You need an open heart and a willingness to receive good thoughts from any which direction.
This morning I tried to wake up early to make heart-shaped scones for the boys in my life. My plan was a bit foiled by Oliver who insisted on waking up and staying up at 6am but I pushed onward, with one arm only, and cranked out the most delicious Valentines I could think of. If I could have added words to them, in "Conversation Heart" fashion, I would have added "Love" "Sweet Boy" "Proud of You" and even a "Thank You" for the biggest boy in my house.
Happy Valentines day everyone. Know that we may not connect by phone of facetime, but you all are Valentines to me and I send my love.
And to think, we haven't even gotten today's mail! Perhaps there's more to come...
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